Beaten but unbowed the Waterford hurlers vowed they'll return to Croke Park to end their six-decade wait for an All-Ireland hurling crown.
lmost 20,000 people lined the River Suir in Waterford last night to cheer Derek McGrath and his heroic but heartbroken Déise senior hurling panel.
The hurlers were feted as they travelled up the quays at 7.30pm on an open-top bus to a special stage erected for the civic reception hosted by Mayor of Waterford Councillor Pat Nugent.
A sea of blue and white descended on the area from 5pm as loyal fans gathered to show their appreciation for the Déise's bid for Liam MacCarthy Cup glory. Among the loudest cheers of the evening were the tributes roared out to McGrath, his backroom team and star hurler Austin 'Ozzie' Gleeson (22). An emotional McGrath paid tribute to the Déise legions for helping lift the spirits of the hurlers.
He also stressed that Waterford wouldn't have made it to Croke Park but for fans favourite Ozzie. "We were dejected after it (the defeat) - we placed so much emphasis on getting the Holy Grail and to fall short by so little is very tough," he said.
"It has been very difficult. There is an element of realising that it is a chance missed.
"Galway were a little sharper than us on the day. Fan Billy Doyle said it was vital Waterford now stay united for another tilt at glory. "It's as obvious as the nose on your face there's an All-Ireland in this team," he said.